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Comparative Essay


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Comparative Essay

  1. 1. Comparative EssayHuman beings are born with a series of exceptional faculties which have the common purposeof helping both men and women through their process of development within society, andfrom the moment we are born, we are taught how to communicate and years later we go toschools in order to fully develop skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking. In thefollowing essay, we will refer to three different authors: Jeremy Harmer, David Nunan and H.Douglas Brown and their perspectives when it comes to teaching skills, specifically tolistening. According to Nunan (2003), listening is an active, purposeful process of makingsense to what we hear; it is a receptive skill and it is remarkably relevant when learning todevelop speaking skills. The ability to listen, reproduce a language, and the process ofteaching listening skills has been studied since recent years, after the World War II, with theaudio-lingual method, which required oral responses to be evaluated. Later, researchersrealized that listening was an important skill, because learning English it is not just a matter oftranslating or reading extensive texts, but also understanding the different moods and purposesthat a native speaker reflects at the moment of speaking. The current researchers mentioned inthe following essay emphasize that, instead of their suggestions and principles, the classroombelongs to the teacher and he is free to create, or even modify activities. However, it isimportant to remark that the principal aim of teaching listening is to encourage students torespond after receiving the listening text, because listening is a communicative skill. Listening is fundamental when it comes to the development of the ability to speak; theexposure to a language, in our case English, should vary, in order to face the students todifferent types of listening; also, teachers should apply a series of principles in order to helpthe students through their process of developing their listening skills; Harmer, Nunan and H.D.Brown agree on this matter. Listening is absolutely relevant when developing speaking,because, in order to speak fluently, with proper intonation and rhythm, listening becomes arelevant part of our environment, because the ability to speak in a particular way has beendirectly related to imitation, so when we listen, we tend to imitate words, expressions anddifferent features of speech; this can be reflected, according to the previous authors, in ourstudents attempt to develop dialogues and further production of the pronunciation of thewords. Harmer, Nunan and Brown developed a series of very similar principles which can beused as a commandment for English teachers, at the moment to plan a listening activity or aclass were listening is required. Our three authors, in their principles, believe that the level ofproficiency of the students must be consider when applying a task; authenticity of thelanguage used in listening activities and tasks can help our students to feel familiarized withthe contents and context of that particular listening, and it can also be of great motivation forthe teacher him/herself when it comes to his/her creativity.
  2. 2. According to Nunan, listening is an active skill differenced in two categories: productive andreceptive listening. On the contrary, Harmer states that listening can be divided into intensiveand extensive listening, inside the classroom and for pleasure, respectively. From the point ofview of the teacher’s role Harmer, on his fourth principle, states that teachers shouldencourage the students to respond, helping them with an understanding from meaning to formof a listening text. Notwithstanding, Brown says that teachers should be aware in how studentsrespond to the listening activities, being more focused in the form. Nunan suggests theGouin’s Method, which is based on the use of imperatives and statements that learners can seeafter they hear, in order to assimilate the action with what they just heard. Thisrecommendation is useful because we listen to for a purpose. Nunan also says that some usefulstrategies to use in the classroom could be dictation, gist tasks, and the modification ofactivities, giving a sort of freedom to the teacher. On the other hand, Harmer states that thelistening activities are helpful for developing paralinguistic cues, or communicative skills,such as inference of mood of the speakers, find specific information, and achieve a generalunderstanding of the text; thus, teachers should be aware to use different kind of tasks, goingfrom general to specific, in order to encourage students to listen as much as possible, and alsoto exploit the listening texts with the major quantity of activities possible as well, because themore applications a text have, the more the students learn. Learning and acquiring skills represents part of the basis of our education, and as futureeducators it is our aim and duty to deliver strategies, methods and provide techniques, in orderto help our future students throughout their learning process. As listening is a communicativeskill, should be developed in the better way. Teachers have that task inside the classroom, andfor these purposes there are a wide range of strategies and principles, developed by greatresearchers as David Nunan, Jeremy Harmer and H. Douglas Brown. In this essay, we havefaced different definitions and categories of listening, as an active skill more than a passiveone, and that can be differenced as intensive or extensive, for academic purposes and forentertainment, respectively. Listening can be categorized as a productive and receptive skill aswell, in the right way the learner’s development of the language. We also learned that thedifferent methods bottom-up and top-down can be used in an integrated way, called InteractiveProcessing, which is based on the activation of background knowledge into the students, inorder to engage them through their life experiences, giving them a context before the listeningactivity; this strategy can be helpful to motivate them and assure a better understanding of theactivity and the listening text. Ma. Francisca Rojas Victoriano Alexander González